A Few Things I've Learned Raising Backyard Chickens...
- Security! My number one priority is security. If you don't keep your chickens safe, you won't have any chickens. Even in the city, there are raccoons and possums. Guess what's up above? Yep, the hawk. I have one visit several times a month. My girls are in an enclosed run and so far, nothing, but the occasional rat, has gotten in. Stole some feed, far as I can tell.
We've named this guy Bob Ewell (another story) He lives right there in the neighbor's shed and has taught me a few lessons. Pretty much a permanent fixture, live traps won't hold him and I will not use poison.
- Have a large enough run to walk around in. I started out with a small tractor. Still an enclosed run but, was 2 foot high. The only hands on interaction I had with my birds was if they were in the coop. That was the only access I had to them. I fed and watered them in the coop. They had a ramp at the back they used to enter/exit the run area. It was secure. Mr. Hawk tried but couldn't get in. My run is attached to the coop so, everything is protected.
Once upon a time, I removed this run. I thought the girls would enjoy free-ranging - they did. Worked out well for quite awhile. Then, it caught up to us and we lost some birds. I have since rebuilt this set up and, once again, everyone's safe My first set up was this tractor. I had 2 chicks. As they grew, I expanded the run area.
- Watch your step. My birds love to get under-foot. Never take you eyes off your feet. You'll end up tripping over one. Also, you may not see chicken poop. But, almost every time I go in the run, I come out with dirty shoes. There's chicken bubble gum everywhere and it hides until you put your foot down.
- Visit with your birds regularly. They are so relaxing to be around. I take a chair and the camera into the run with me and just sit. Picture taking is challenging. Chickens are fast and will be out of the view finder in a clucking mili-second. Take treats. They go bonkers for treats.
Store bought eggs. As Edgar Allen Poe's raven would say, “nevermore.”
I cannot stress it enough. SECURITY is number one. Always check for security. Always. If you get complacent, you'll lose some chickens. The predators always know.